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Silence can be violence: LGBTQ student activists

With the admission season on in DU, orientation sessions will be conducted for LGBTQ students by gender studies cells and student groups. These queer student bodies help people to be comfortable with their identities and also spread awareness.

more lifestyle Updated: Jun 13, 2016 19:48 IST
Etti Bali
Etti Bali
Hindustan Times
Delhi University,Queer Activism,LGBT Pride
Students from DU, Ambedkar University and JNU demonstrating in North Campus.(Sushil Kumar/HT Photo)

Admission time in DU means tensed, confused fuchchas on a mad mission to bag a good course in a reputed college. And it goes without saying that they need help in making a wise decision for a smooth college life ahead. Since LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) students “often face discrimination on campus”, apart from counselling sessions, orientation sessions are also being held for them. Colleges like Kirori Mal and St. Stephen’s have their own gender studies cells that function within the purview of the administration.

There are also voluntary student groups, which are helping to spearhead the awareness movement. Groups like DU Queer Collective, Ambedkar University Queer Collective and Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) Dhanak are some of them.

Rafiul Alom Rahman, founder of DU Queer Collective, says, “The administration keeps silent when it comes to our rights. They don’t realise that this silence leads to violence against us.”

While it is tough for students embarking on a new phase in their lives to adjust to new people, new cities and new responsibilities, it is especially hard on students from the LGBTQ community. In scenarios like these, the existence of a queer student body is no less than a blessing. “Most people struggle with their identities. LGBTQ groups in campuses help create awareness and give students a sense of belonging,” adds Rafiul.

Posters and banners are a creative choice of expression. (Sushil Kumar/HT Photo)

Dhiren Borisa, a member of Dhanak, says, “There was a dearth of spaces where LGBT students could come out in the open. In Dhanak, every year, we organise admission assistance during this season and give out brochures and helpline numbers for various queer bodies.”

To this end, Gender Pages, an online magazine was launched in December 2015 by DU students Shirin Choudhary and Vanika Sharma. It functions as a platform for students from the community to voice their opinion. Shirin, who is a 2nd year student of St. Stephen’s College, says, “We have tried to create a space for young artists and activists to talk about gender fluidity. Through this medium, we have brought together the voices of alternate identities.”

Apart from these initiatives, there are many activities and events that are organised regularly. Divya Dureja, an alumna of Daulat Ram College, says, “When I was studying at DU, I used to perform at queer poetry slams, where students from the community speak about their rights and struggles. Whenever there is an event for LGBTQ awareness, all three universities get together. We always got a lot of support from their respective queer bodies.”

First Published: Jun 13, 2016 19:48 IST